Review by BimmyandJimmy
Insert some overused "Donkey Kong is back" tag line here.
Who would have ever thought that we would be seeing a new Donkey Kong Country game in this day in age after its fourteen year hiatus? No, really, after the series looked like it was finally ended after that mediocre third game came out in 1996, I never really thought I would ever see another Donkey Kong country game, seeing as how I didnt think that creating a better game was even possible. Still, as unexpected as it was, it seems that Nintendo made it worth the wait, and could quite possibly be on of the best games that the Wii has to offer in, oh lets say, ever.
Donkey Kong Country returns, or I guess you can sort of call it Donkey Kong Country 4 for the sake of consistency, is in many ways a subtle tribute to the very first Donkey Kong country game. In may ways, this is fantastic seeing as how it fills my mind with nostalgia of when I first saw the original, both in that Nintendo Power video tape promoting the game, or for the first time sticking it in my Super Nintendo and experiencing such joy as I played it with my friends and sibling for hours, trying our best to beat the game as much as possible and taking turns when someone died. Still, in some ways, it also brings back quite a number of times of frustration, seeing as trying to control Donkey Kong was such a pain in the ass back in the day, and in ways, it still sort of is.
Besides being hinted in the title, this new game is much like the old one from the way it borrowed many of the levels, themes, lighting and coloring of the first game, the same game that was considered to be a graphical masterpiece back when it was first released in 94, and for good reasons why. Still the most important thing that they kept in this game is its overall fun factor, and better yet, has actually fixed a lot of the unavoidable problems that was present in the first Donkey Kong Country.
I might ever dare myself to say that this version may be better than its original counterpart. No joke.
That's not to say that there aren't any problems that are in the first game that didn't leach over into this one. Again, it just seems that this game is not that difficulty to beat and I bet that if you were to just sit and play the gamed for a couple hours, you could beat it and return it to the video store in no time. Again, its seems like a lot of games theses days are just overpriced since there seems to be a lack of overall length and difficulty, so this game isn't much exception.
Being said, the developers realized this and overall made each and every single level in this game sort of an both a visual and action pack experience that will leave you in awe. It it might be the mist fun I have ever had with the Donkey Kong Country franchise, hell, in some ways more than Diddy's Quest, and that's not a lie. What makes these levels so unique and enjoyable is the implementation of not only playing in the foreground, but in the background, sort of like the Paper Mario series, but faster pace and with a higher onslaught of deadly enemies and fast moving action. There was nothing better in this game that to just gain a truckload of speed, cruise through the level while having all this visual anarchy going off around you, especially the mine cart levels, which to my everlasting joy, have made its way into the game but in greater numbers. I have always loved these levels the most because they give that seance of thrills that couldn't be replicated by the platforming levels. Combine that with the constant visuals and enemies coming at you and you've got something special here that I haven't seen in a while.
So, you can absolutely bet that I found the artistic atmosphere in Donkey Kong Country Returns to be quite striking. I'll be honest with you though, I still think that for its time, the original Donkey Kong Country was still the best visual experience to be released, and while this one is great in all, it can seem kind of childish from time to time, while the original felt like it have a little more serious undertone and deeper shading. This game is both full of vibrant colors and interesting effects that will leave your brain begging for more, at first, but after a while you might feel like the game should just tone it down a few notches, and believe me, this game is anything but 'toned down'. Musically, the game borrows a few of the songs that you might have hared in the first game and has remixed them with this jazzier, softer sound instead of the sort of 'primal rave' sound of the first one. Again, its not bad, but not quite as atmospheric. They might as well have made a funkier style of music or something with a stronger beat to compliment the energy of the levels. Still not bad, but could have been better.
One major flaw I found in this game was the fact that this time around, you cant control Diddy Kong as much as in the first game, and that just annoys me to no end because he is still one of my overall favorite Nintendo characters in history. So, why did they limit him to this sort of extra 'hit-point' level of control? Its kind of insulting in some ways, seeing as how he could always do more than what Donkey Kong could ever dream of. Thankfully, DK is much easier to control in this one than in the first. He jumping doesn't feel stilted and limited, and performing his special moves are quite easy to accomplish. Still, in some ways, he can feel a little touchy to the control, which is annoying when it comes to precised jumping on tiny platforms. Also, maintaining a flow of momentum with Donkey Kong, while not all that hard to pull off, is kind of odd in ways. A lot of the time, usually when it came to eliminating an entire train of bad guys no doubt, Donkey Kong would just stop dead in his tracks and get hit by the enemies, therefore wasting one of my hearts and/or balloons.
A lot of the games seance of replay value comes with collecting things, something which I'm not particularly vivacious on since I usually find this style to be rather stilted and boring, but, in this case, the games overabundant energy makes it an absolute blast to find things and experiencing what they actually do. You still collect the KONG letters in this game, but instead of actually giving you an extra life, they give you new modes that you can unlock and play, which I think is far better, seeing as how it was a little too easy to gather one up;s in the first game.
Still, this is a game that both the hardcore and casual gamer can pick up and play and just have a nice fun time with for a couple for hours.
Recommendation is high for this game, but don't expect much of a challenge. It is better than the original game in many ways, but you can always count on Donkey Kong 2 to be the continued supreme champion in this series of games. This game though, is a close second, so let that be something to think about.
Rating: 4.0 - Great
Product Release: Donkey Kong Country Returns (US, 11/21/10)
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